The Tebow Effect…

Tim Tebow became the center of media attention for a brief moment this last fall.  A combination of football heroics, faith and social media made Tebow a household name and a lightening rod for conversation.  Adam Amel Rogers is a Project Specialist at the Norman Lear Center at USC.   Here is his take on the Tebow effect. 

To this die-hard Denver Broncos fan, the past football season has been an unforgettable wild ride. My beloved team used a series of unbelievable last-minute comebacks to rise above their talent level and win their division and a game in the playoffs. In the process, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow rose to a level of fame that reaches far beyond the football field.

Few public figures exemplify the work we do at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center more than Tim Tebow. The Lear Center studies and shapes how entertainment and media impact society; and over the past year, the Tebow phenomenon has traversed numerous societal categories that help explain his meteoric rise in both popularity and disdain.

Religion – The intersection of sports and religion is nothing new, but Tim Tebow has dramatically moved the needle on the public discussion of religion’s role in sports. Tebow’s overt and unapologetic religious references have made him a hero in evangelical communities and a villain among those who believe in the separation of church and sports. Religion became a regular topic on sports talk radio, and a recent poll revealed that 43% of people believe that “divine intervention” is at least in part responsible for Tebow’s success. Following the Broncos legendary overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a common media meme was focused on how Tebow threw for 316 yards (like the commonly cited Bible verse “John 3:16”), on 10 (as in commandments) passes, for an average of 31.6 yards per pass (there it is again). Some took it even further, noting that he threw the pass to Demaryius Thomas, who shares a birthday with Jesus (December 25). Hyperbolic religious claims and criticisms became a regular part of discussions involving Tebow.

Politics – Tim Tebow has been perhaps the most sought-after celebrity endorsement of the 2012 presidential race. Although he has very smartly

declined to endorse anyone, that hasn’t stopped candidates from trying to capitalize on his popularity – both Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have desperately compared themselves to him. Tebow is no stranger to political controversy; his decision to align himself with the anti-gay, anti-choice organization Focus on the Family for an abortion-themed Super Bowl ad in 2010 still serves as a sore spot for progressives. It appears that his handlers now have a short leash on him regarding public display of his views on social issues, but that hasn’t stopped Focus on the Family from continuing to align themselves with Tebow. During the Broncos season-ending game against the New England Patriots, Focus aired a John 3:16″ themed commercial that was inspired by Tebow’s 316 yards passing the week before. Tebow’s life is expected to intersect with politics many times in the future: social conservatives have talked about drafting Tebow for public office ever since he was at the University of Florida.

Media – Prior to this season, the Broncos have been virtually invisible in mainstream sports media, but media coverage of Tim Tebow became an absolute obsession this season. ESPN seemed to lead the fixation with constant coverage of the Tebow phenomenon that included two separate one-hour Tebow specials (compared with a combined zero one-hour specials for all other NFL players). In the second Tebow special, they said the word “Tebow” 160 times in one hour. Deadspin put together a 91 second video which shows all 160 mentions. The Tebow story also spawned countless articles in traditional news media, and at times it dominated social media – his overtime playoff touchdown against the Steelers propelled a record-setting 9,420 tweets per second, which is the most ever for a U.S. event.

Internet Memes – Tebow’s success has made him susceptible to the full range of tribute and parody that the Internet has to offer. His signature prayer move made “Tebowing” the next “Planking” as people across the globe posted pictures of themselves on one knee in prayer. Then several Tebow-themed videos spread like wildfire, including traditional media comedies like a Saturday Night Live skit that featured Jesus asking Tebow to “tone it down,” and a Jimmy Fallon mashup between David Bowie and Tim Tebow, or as he dubbed it, “Tebowie.” Then there’s the popular auto-tuned YouTube hit All He Does Is Win” (with over 2.5 million views), the fake Tim Tebow movie trailer, and of course you’re not a real star on the Internet until Hitler weighs in on your success. Tebow has also been photobombed all over the Web, with the popular Mad Magazine rendition of Tebow as Jesus in the Last Supper, Tebow touching the hand of God in Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” and Tebow as a Centaur riding with Broncos legend John Elway under a rainbow.

Business – Shortly after Tim was drafted into the league, his jersey sales were ranked number 1 in the league, and he was pictured in his underwear in department stores across the nation for his Jockey endorsement – all before he had ever taken a snap in the NFL. After this crazy season, he has proven to be ratings gold for networks. The playoff win over the Steelers was watched by 42.4 million viewers, making it the most-watched TV program since last February’s Super Bowl. Tebow has also become an inspirational figure for business leadership, with the Washington Post naming him as one of the best leaders of 2011 (along with Hillary Clinton and Steve Jobs), and Forbes Magazine finding in him a slew of leadership lessons.

Innovation – The Lear Center has a project called Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy, which seeks to identify ways that research communities innovate and collaborate. Perhaps there are some lessons to be learned from this year’s Broncos season. A substantial part of the fascination with Tebow and the Broncos was how they won games. The NFL is a pass-heavy league that values strong arms and precision passing. When Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees throws a pass, the ball looks like a magnificent work of art as it travels to its precise target. When Tim Tebow throws a pass, it looks like a rejected kindergarten art project that will be lucky to land anywhere near its target. The Broncos’ success is largely due to the coaching staff’s throwing out conventional wisdom and building an offense that is based on the skills that Tim Tebow brings to the field. This upset much of the traditional football brass, who couldn’t understand how a team could keep winning games with a quarterback who can’t throw the ball, but the Broncos’ success has shown how important it is to cater to organizational strengths. As Terry Frei from the Denver Post said of the Broncos’ offense, “Innovation leads to redefining conformity in a copycat business.”1

Whatever the reason for Tebow’s success last fall, he effect on people seems to be lasting.  Follow us on Facebook or find us on twitter. 

1) http://blog.learcenter.org/2012/01/tim_tebow_the_most_lear_center.html

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Tweeting or Sex?

Do you feel a compulsion to check your phone for activity on Twitter? Tweeting or checking emails may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, according to researchers who tried to measure how well people could resist their desires. They even claim that while sleep and sex may be stronger urges, people are more likely to give in to longings or cravings to use social and other media because it is free!

A team headed by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University’s Booth Business School say their experiment, using BlackBerrys to gauge the willpower of 205 people aged between 18 and 85 in and around the German city of Würtzburg is the first to monitor responses outside a laboratory.

The participants were signaled seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days so they could message back whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes, what type it was, the strength (up to irresistible), whether it conflicted with other desires and whether they resisted or went along with it. There were 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes” reported.

“Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success,” said Hofmann. Sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires, suggesting “pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations”.

The researchers found that as the day wore on, willpower became lower. Their paper says highest “self-control failure rates” were recorded with media. “Resisting the desire to work was likewise prone to fail. In contrast, people were relatively successful at resisting sports inclinations, sexual urges, and spending impulses, which seems surprising given the salience in modern culture of disastrous failures to control sexual impulses and urges to spend money. Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not ‘cost much’ to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist.”

Social media is free and hard to resist! We are all hardwired to desire connection.

Find us on Facebook @ata2udmedia or Twitter @ ata2udmedia

Does Mobile Spell the End of the PC?

Spending more time on your mobile device then your PC? There’s a trend slowly building and it may not be good for the PC industry. I’m not speaking about tablet and smartphone growth — although that’s part of the trend — but virtualization on mobile devices. This solution allows remote PC access from a tablet, for example, and could hurt already slowing PC sales.

I wouldn’t call this a new phenomenon: There have been remote access solutions on mobile devices for several years. Think of Citrix’s GoToMyPC or LogMeIn’s Ignition. These and similar services allow you to use a mobile devices to interact with the desktop of a Windows PC at home, so you could work on a Word document from an Android tablet, for example.

Virtualization is maturing quickly, as are the mobile chips that power smartphones and tablets. This week at CES, I played a graphic-intensive PC game with stunning visuals and fast action on an Android tablet. But the game itself was actually running on a Windows desktop. Using remote access software from Splashtop on the Asus Transformer Prime tablet, you couldn’t tell. See for yourself in the video demo I captured showing the zero-lag.

Connecting a tablet or phone to remotely use your own computer is just one part of the virtualization story. OnLive has a virtualization service that lets you connect a Windows machine in the cloud. That’s not your PC, but a “PC running on the web,” so to speak. I’ve done this myself with EC2 on Amazon’s Web Services and it only cost me a few dollars a month to run an instance of Windows on a PC I can use, but don’t own: Far cheaper than buying, maintaining and powering a physical computer.

Combine cloud streaming of computer applications and improved remote access apps, there’s less incentive to buy a new computer. Instead, you can either get more mileage out of an old computer or check out one that’s available in the cloud.

This is not to suggest the PC industry is dead, but PC dominance is slipping. Sales have started stagnating, and last year smartphones outsold computers.

At Ata2ud Media, we step outside our echo chamber to listen and learn.  Find us on Facebook.com/ata2udmedia or follow us on twitter.com/ata2udmedia. 

Extracted from the web @ http://gigaom.com/mobile/mobile-virtualization-another-nail-in-the-pc-coffin/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=gigaom

The Why of Social Media…..

Business owners are always asking, “why should I use social media for my business?” Recently, I found a blog written by Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/active-social-media.htm) that gives a great explanation.
Social media has become a daily part of nearly everyone’s life. According to studies by The Pew Foundation, Nielson Research and others, millions of people are active on at least one social networking site each day.  Numbers alone do not answer the “why” of social media. Here’s why an active social media presence is so important:
Search Engine Optimization
The search engines pay attention to social media data and use it to determine search engine ranking. The search engines view content links that are shared frequently in social media as trusted. Since the search engines want to provide valuable search results, they will consider this as a ranking factor which means that the more frequently content gets shared in social media, the better chances it has of ranking well. Obviously, a search engine presence (or lack thereof) plays a huge role in the success of a website.

Traffic Generation
While it’s great to get social media followers, the ultimate goal of a social media marketing campaign should be to drive traffic to your business website. That’s why it’s so important to have the right social media followers, ones that are actually interested in the products or services that you offer. Thousands upon thousands of followers don’t mean much if they never take action and visit your website or blog to learn more.

Public Relations
Social media provides information in real time and has become a primary source of news. While it shouldn’t necessarily replace traditional PR or submitting online press releases, it’s another avenue to share information about your business and interact with members of the press.

Brand Building
Every industry is competitive online today. The businesses that will find the most success are the ones that are transparent and willing to share information with target audience members in order to become a trusted source. Social media is one avenue to share such information and connect with potential clients or customers in order to give them a positive view of your business and brand.

Referrals
Everything in the social media world revolves around connection.  Connection is your ability to interact with satisfied customers and seek referrals.  If you believe 70-80% of your new business comes from repeat customers and referrals, then using social media to network is a very nature extension of your current business development model.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to learn more about using social media to build your brand.

Social Media for Marketing….

Using social media for marketing is the simple use of technology to amp up your networking. How have things changed? Social media is great equalizer, giving you direct access to people through Facebook instant messages or tweets.  If I’m looking for a product, I’m more likely to broadcast a tweet on Twitter, and get the opinions of people I trust. social-media-marketing

Only when I cannot get a valued and trusted referral, would I rely on a search engine that is manipulated by people in the SEO business. SEO and organic search is about getting found passively.

Social media technologies used to amp up WOM (word of mouth) marketing by starting brand conversations.  Word of mouth is taking over faster than ever, thanks to the reach of Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  You can jump into the conversations and take an active role in getting traffic to your site.   This conversation approach uses the best attributes of social media to connect you to your audience but it is not free nor easy.

Here are your necessary tools:

A website with social integration (a Facebook fan page and twitter) and a blog.  Now….

1) Subscribe to the Google Alerts.   Not only one keyword in Google but dozens surrounding your market.

2) Participate in blog conversations.  Jump into every conversation related to your topic. Go comment on their blogs. Social bookmark every post you comment on.

3) Go to Twitter Search http://search.twitter.com and type in your keyword phrase.

4) Answer great questions on your blog. Start conversations and answer questions on your blog. What questions? As you monitor the Twitter feed, you’ll see plenty of questions being asked.   Also, each time a client asks a question answer it on your blog.
5) Direct prospects to your products by conversation.  Your conversation should always end by bookmarking your web or social sites.

Your brand conversation social interaction is telling your story and creating influence.  Look at the graphic below from Dynamic Media Group showing the buying decision and where influence is the greatest.  In the early stages of thinking, asking and talking you have the best chance of showing your expertise and influencing a buying decision.  influence

Between conversing with customers and connecting far-flung employees and operations, social media has become a prized resource for small businesses. And many business owners now say their efforts are paying off.  Four in 10 women-led business owners attributed an increase in revenue to their social media efforts, with 10 percent reporting a “significant” revenue jump, according to a survey conducted by Women Presidents’ Organization.1

Pushing Your Ideas….

Don’t be afraid to send out your own unique ideas and concepts for the purpose of allowing your community to add their take on it. In many ways, social media can serve as a very large free focus group that can help you gauge the interest in potential future projects. Too many opportunities are missed by not giving enough people the chance to give their take on an idea prior to it coming to life.

Social media is an excellent marketing platform for companies and individuals that take the time to learn how it works. What was once a steadfast and scientific understanding of marketing is now a constantly evolving conversation that gives your customers and audience the opportunity to take part in a two-way conversation with you and connect on a level on social media can provide.

Truly great communicators don’t start out by focusing on their message.  They start with their audience.  They research, observe, and monitor every knowable detail – from background facts beforehand to micro-reactions during the conversation – and adjust their content and delivery precisely, so it will make an impact.2

Ready to us social media for marketing?  Call us today 713-628-0701.

PR in a Social World….

The Public Relations industry has a PR problem.  The explosion of social media has transformed the PR landscape.  The relationship between the members of the public and those communicating with them has fundamentally shifted. PR people have controlled the process for decades and the conversation only went one way. The traditional top down monologue now goes two ways in a conversation.

This new dialog has spawned its own set of definitions and terms. Instead of the term public relations, we now have earned media, word of mouth marketing and buzz marketing.  This PR attempt at re-branding also follows several embarrassments for the industry as new media makes it easier for consumers to learn about the blunders committed in trying to influence what they buy and believe.

Among the examples are:

1)    BP’s mishandling of the aftermath of its accident in the Gulf of Mexico;

2)    Facebook’s hiring of a public relations agency to try generating articles that would criticize the privacy practices of its rival, Google;

3)    ChapStick’s increased complaints about a new campaign, which asked consumers to “Be heard at facebook.com/ChapStick,” by repeatedly deleting negative comments about the ads from the Facebook page; and

4)    Netflix lost hundreds of thousands of members with a plan, later rescinded, to divide into separate businesses.

“Before the rise of social media, public relations was about trying to manage the message an entity was sharing with its different audiences,” Mr. Lavelle said. “Now, P.R. has to be more about facilitating the ongoing conversation in an always-on world.”

A new definition will also help with recruitment, he added, because “to find someone good at P.R., you need some rigor around the practice.”

“In a world where the ordinary consumer is walking around with global publishing power in his or her pocket,” said Mr. Tisch, who is also Chief Executive at Argyle Communications, “the role of public relations and corporate communications has shifted from creating content to attempting to influence the content that’s created by others.”  What are public relations in a social world?

At Ata2ud Media, we believe you should makethe best first impression possible then be quick to admit your failings.  Every negative situation is an opportunity to improve your customer relations and become a better brand.  Call us today 713-628-0701 or find us on Facebook @ ata2udmedia.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/media/redefining-public-relations-in-the-age-of-social-media.html?_r=3


What is Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

At Ata2ud Media, our philosophy of web presence begins with a simple mantra, “You have to be seen, to be heard!”  In the web world, being “seen” means being found in a web search using a popular search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The order in which you appear in that search is key.  The higher the listing, the more likely your site will be visited by a user. Where your site falls in the listing is based upon search engine parameters, called an algorithm.  These algorithms favor helping the user get answers to their search questions.  Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) fine tunes your website making it more “findable” in relevant searches. However, all SEO is not the same.   

Search optimization is broken into two distinct strategies: organic and artificial.   Merriam Webster defines organic, in part, as “having the characteristics of an organism: developing in the manner of a living plant or animal.” To an SEO company, this definition describes the approach taken to achieve long-lasting results in the “natural” use of search engines. The organic strategy involves quality content building over time. Artificial SEO involves using techniques and tricks to fool the search engine and instead of depending on quality content building.

A few comparisons of the different approaches will clarify what we mean when we use the term “organic SEO” and “artificial SEO”.

Content vs. Technical Loopholes

In the SEO industry “content is king.” We would take this adage one step further.  In our experience, quality content is king. Study after study has shown that when people use search engines, they are primarily seeking one thing: quality information. They are not seeking to be impressed by fancy flash sites. They are not looking for pretty.  In SEO the quality of your site is directly proportional to the quality of the questions your site can answer.

A search engine optimization company that is truly practicing “organic SEO” recognizes this fact.  “Artificial SEO” firms, which embrace a technical loophole philosophy, will allow a company to leave its website exactly as it is, because the work that such firms do is largely technical and is designed to trick the engine into showing content that it would not otherwise show. Certainly, there are acceptable (from the engine’s standpoint) technical aspects that any good search engine optimization company will use, such as relevant page titles and Meta tags. But there are many more unacceptable technical methodologies than acceptable ones, including cloaking, redirects, multiple sites, key phrase stuffing, hidden links, and numerous others. A company practicing “organic SEO” will avoid these.

Our philosophy is to integrate a blog for deep content coupled with a twitter (micro blog) and a Facebook feed on page one of your website to get you noticed.  This strategy funnels all your real-time quality content to drive a better search profile.    

Attracting Links vs. Linking Schemes

As any SEO company knows, inbound links are critical to the success of an “organic SEO” campaign. There are different ways to go about it.

Firms that practice true “organic SEO” will look at the website itself and say “How can we make this site something that other sites would want to link to?” What new content needs to be added to create a better search profile? A search engine optimization company using “artificial SEO” will ask, “How can I get links pointing to this site without adding anything of value to it?” The latter approach usually leads to reciprocal linking schemes, link farms, and the purchase of text links.  This strategy avoids making changes to the website that entice others to link to the site.  A better strategy is to ask for a link to be reciprocated.

A solid SEO organic strategy will make certain that a site is listed in all the popular directories, such as the Yahoo Directory, the Open Directory Project, and Business.com.  This strategy will also continually seek any industry-specific directories where your site could be listed.  Using “organic SEO” means building content to your site so that it holds actual value to your prospects.  Using social media feeds and a blog gives your readers information and answers to their questions.  Isn’t that what they are searching for? In my opinion, this is much more beneficial in the long run than the artificial methodology of trying to garner incoming links that the site does not truly deserve.

Quality content, which is a resource for answering searcher questions, will get the high quality inbound links.

Creating an Expert Resource vs. Algorithm Chasing

Search engines change their algorithms frequently for two reasons. One is, of course, to improve their results based upon their most recent user interaction.  The other is to get past the tactics that get sites ranked artificially high.

The common denominator in websites that maintain their high rankings despite frequent algorithm changes is high quality content! They offer something of value (answer questions) to their visitors and are considered a resource for their industry. “Organic SEO” practitioners generally do not concern themselves with algorithm shifts.  They continue to build content making your site an expert resource in your field.   While an “artificial” SEO companies desperately try to claw their way back to rankings lost from dependence on technical loopholes.   “Organic SEO” firms continue adding valuable and relevant content to your site, strengthening its value and bolstering its rankings.

The organic approach requires you have a shift in thinking: from marketer to publisher: from salesperson to guide.  What do your prospects need to know about your product or service that can differentiate you from others? Let your website be their source to learn about your industry. Prospects are very likely to call you when they are ready to buy, as you have become their expert resource!  With “organic SEO,” you will reach people in all stages of the buying cycle, educate them, and steer them toward your solution by using your website.

Learning from Engines vs. Learning How to Exploit Them

On a regular basis, search engines engage in very expensive studies on what their users want to see when they enter search queries. “Organic SEO” firms are always positioning themselves in the search algorithm with quality content. An “organic SEO” company will try to learn and “listen” to the results of recent studies.  For example, shifting technology like the explosive growth of social media caused dramatic changes in the search algorithms.  “Organic SEO” companies now incorporate the micro blogging aspects of social media into their website build model.  “Artificial SEO” does not concern itself with user interaction studies, getting traffic.  It does not listen to the user it solely focuses on defeating the search engine algorithm.

The “artificial” approach makes results erratic, but it also raises a larger point.  What is the goal of the campaign or your website? If an “Artificial SEO” company finds a loophole in an algorithm that catapults your site to the top, but does not consider the user experience at your website, it defeats the original purpose. You want to convert traffic to customers! You may get plenty of visitors (traffic).  These will be short-term visitors who do not find what they want on your site and back out without a second thought. No conversion. Ata2ud Media believes conversion begins with getting relevant, quality and timely content.   An exceptional user experience is a function of meeting the user’s needs!

Final Thoughts on the “Organic” Approach 

An SEO company that takes a true “Organic SEO” approach will actually take the dictionary definition quite literally in building your website. A great website is like an organism, always growing and adapting to its environment.  It builds upon itself. It learns how it should behave and act in its own best interest.

At Ata2ud Media, we specialize in content that is both high quality and social.  Do you want people to hear your brand message?  Then you need to be seen! Let us help you climb the search listings in Google, Yahoo and Bing.